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Giraldes v. Nikolai

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 6, 2019

LARRY GIRALDES, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
ALICE NIKOLAI, et al., Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

          ALLISON CLAIRE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff proceeds pro se in this prisoner civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Following a successful settlement conference, a stipulation for voluntary dismissal with prejudice was filed on June 10, 2019. ECF No. 90. The action was accordingly closed. ECF No. 91. Plaintiff subsequently moved to vacate the stipulated dismissal. ECF No. 92. The motion was denied without prejudice by the settlement judge. ECF No. 94. Plaintiff then filed objections to the settlement, directed to the district judge, which were referred to the undersigned. ECF Nos. 97, 98.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The record establishes the following facts. A settlement conference was conducted in this case in 2017, by U.S. Magistrate Judge Kendall J. Newman, and the case did not settle. ECF No. 77. On June 7, 2019, Judge Newman held a settlement conference in another of plaintiff's cases, Giraldes v. Bobbala, No. 2:17-cv-2602 MCE EFB. Plaintiff was represented by pro bono counsel at this settlement conference. A resolution was reached that included both the Bobbala matter and the instant case, along with Giraldes v. CDCR, et al., No. 2:16-cv-2139 KJM DB. The terms of the settlement were stated on the record. ECF Nos. 89 (minute order), 96 (transcript).

         Judge Newman memorialized the material terms of the agreement as follows:

In settlement in this case, real underlying issues have been Mr. Giraldes' . . . concerns about his pain management treatment as well as his dietary plans and nutrition. So what the parties have agreed is, essentially, to do a fresh start and so as part of this settlement the plaintiff agrees to dismiss all cases, litigation, and appeals he has pending with the exception of the Baughman matter, which is Case No. 18-10055, but he's dismissing this case, which is 17-cv-2602. He's also dismissing 16-cv-2139 and 16-cv-0497. Initially, he had a previous litigation that had been settled called Hicimbothom, 09-cv-154, that resulted in a settlement and some non-monetary relief as part of that, which was entered into on August 12th of 2010, and plaintiff agrees that that will have no force and effect and will not be cited or referenced in any future claims or litigation.
. . . Mr. Giraldes agrees to dismiss all medical practitioners before then entering into the actual or as part of then entering into a separate signed settlement, which will be with Defendant Tuers, T-U-E-R-S, and then of course, CDCR is the one who's ultimately agreeing to the fundamental terms here.
Defendants agree to pay to plaintiff and his counsel the total sum of $3, 000 in complete resolution of all claims that Mr. Giraldes brought or could have brought in any of these cases and defendants agree that within 90 days from receipt of a signed document they will have Mr. Giraldes examined by a medical doctor not from CSP-SAC, as well as they will have Mr. Giraldes evaluated by a dietician, examined and evaluated by a dietician. . . not from CSP-SAC. All, each of those people will use their training and experience and the best practices to determine medically the best treatment, including pain management for Mr. Giraldes, as well as the best practices for his dietary concerns/issues going forward, and CDCR agrees to go along with whatever they recommend and determine is medically appropriate. And. . . Mr. Giraldes agrees to be bound by whatever they determine to the best practices and appropriate. He agrees not to contest whatever their recommendations are or if those recommendations change in the future based on, again, professionals determining what the best practices and what is reasonably needed changes over time.

         ECF No. 96 at 4-6.

         Judge Newman then provided hypotheticals to illustrate the agreed-upon terms regarding mutual acceptance of the new medical and nutritional assessments:

For example, pain medication. A doctor could recommend no medication, could recommend Tylenol, could recommend Tramadol, but it's up to the doctor to determine what he or she recommends and Mr. Giraldes agrees he's not going to contest that just 'cause he has a different conclusion. And even if, for example, the doctor prescribes Tramadol but in six months says, he or she or another doctor determines that Mr. Giraldes no longer needs it medically, then Mr. Giraldes doesn't have a basis to bring a, a new lawsuit or claim as a result of that.
Similarly, the dietician will be making their best professional determinations as to whether or not he needs smaller meals, more calories, etc., and CDCR agrees to go along with that determination as well as Mr. Giraldes agrees to go along with it and not file claims or litigation if he disagrees or if those change in the future 'cause someone determines, again, it, it's no longer the appropriate course of treatment and Mr. Giraldes agrees that he will be seeking to comply with all instructions. So he realizes they may very well order different restrictions or take him off something if, for example, he refuses to be weighed in or he's not eating his meals. That may, very often, can impact what a doctor or a dietician thinks is medically necessary and appropriate.

Id. at 6-7.

         Judge Newman concluded by noting that the settlement would involve no admission of liability by defendants, that the parties would bear their own fees and costs, that any proceeds would first be applied against any outstanding restitution owed by the plaintiff, and that plaintiff would be required to sign “the dismissal with prejudice of the medical professionals, a signed settlement ...


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